What is a photo editing workflow ?
A sequence of steps and actions you consistently take, from capturing the image to creating an atmospheric finalised version which you want your viewer to experience and which is securely saved on various media.
Is there a standard workflow ?
No. Although there are millions of pages on the web detailing workflow, it should be understood that the vast majority are only applicable to one type / brand of camera and/or a particular piece of editing software. As we are not tied to any manufacturer we are not going to create yet another workflow but we will provide broad guidance so you may do your own research.
So how do I get one for me ?
There are essentially 5 elements a workflow should address. Look for pages specific to your camera and software, as long as they cover the following points, you have a base from which to start. Your workflow will evolve with time as you gain a better all round appreciation of what’s involved.
- Capturing the image – Great digital photographs begin with good data. You should always strive to make the best capture you can and to do that you must understand your camera’s settings, have a good grasp of composition and be in the right place at the right time ! For composition we can recommend this page by Photographylife as a start point.
- Plan the work – Once the image has been captured there’s always the great temptation to get on and edit, BUT, it is actually far better to maybe wait a day or two, sit back, review the image, look at what needs doing and create a suitable plan, preferably documented, to achieve it.
- Create the Technical Foundation – as with any other work, if the foundation is weak, the end result will be failure. This typically involves correcting any systematic camera body or lens issues, noise, correcting exposure, removing unwanted colour casts and making sure as
much detail as possible has been recovered – in other words a technically optimal image to provide a firm foundation for the next phase.
- Artistic Interpretation – many other workflows combine this with the Technical Foundation but we argue the two are separate, Artistic Interpretation is all about passion, drama and creating the atmosphere that you want your viewer to experience, so this element can make all the difference in the way an image is viewed and interpreted.
- The final part of the workflow is to finish the job off – print it, post it, sell it but most of all BACK IT UP !
Can I only have ONE workflow ?
NO ! As you get into the artistic process you may wish to create BW or toned versions, create composites, perhaps HDR or panoramas – and whilst items # 1-3 and 5 would remain essentially the same, #4 could need to be different.
What’s the benefit ?
When you follow a workflow for a while and develop a good understanding of the principles involved then editing will no longer be a struggle / chore / pain and you’ll begin to see an all round improvement in your images.
There’s a Editing workflow overview you can download which provides a summarised overview.